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Profit drops 16.8% at listed companies

THE combined profit of listed companies on the Chinese mainland dropped 16.8 percent last year from 2007 due to the global economic downturn, but this year's first-quarter results showed signs of recovery.

Net income of the 1,624 firms fell to 821 billion yuan (US$120.4 billion) last year, according to figures compiled by China Securities Journal. Of the firms, 254 posted a loss in the period, almost doubling that of a year earlier.

A sharp decline occurred in last year's fourth quarter, when profit dropped about 71 percent from a year earlier to 36.65 billion yuan, compared with 227 billion yuan in the third quarter, 278 billion yuan in the second quarter and 275 billion yuan in the first quarter.

"China's macro economy dropped significantly in the fourth quarter of last year and many listed firms increased provisions against bad assets in the quarter, which led to the sharp decline," Haitong Securities Co said in a report.

China's economy cooled to a seven-year low of 9 percent last year and broke a five-year streak of double-digit expansion.

In the last three months of 2008, growth fell to 6.8 percent year on year, the lowest level in nine years.

Among the profitable firms, 14 earned more than 10 billion yuan each. These were centrally-administered state-owned enterprises and banks, the newspaper said.

In the first quarter of this year, listed companies earned a combined profit of 203.76 billion yuan, dropping 26 percent from a year earlier, but surging an impressive 550 percent quarter on quarter.


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